- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 19, 2021

The conservative Club for Growth is concerned that Republican lawmakers’ willingness to accept big government spending bills is imperiling the GOP‘s path to taking control of Congress in next year’s election.

The group is actively searching for conservative challengers to unseat various Republicans after their new congressional scorecard showed the grade of the average House Republican dropping 10 percentage points in one year, to 69%, The Washington Times has learned.

The Club‘s grades help determine how its advocacy wing decides whom to support and how it marshals funds that will be a key asset for Republicans looking to regain power in Washington.

“I think Republicans have to prove to the voters that they’ve learned the error of their ways and in particular have leaders that are personally committed to the conservative agenda if they’re going to really want to get the majority back in the next election,” said David McIntosh, Club for Growth PAC president.

Mr. McIntosh said the Club has interviewed potential replacements for Rep. Liz Cheney, the Wyoming Republican who was ousted from House GOP leadership, and is looking for a consensus candidate to prevent the splintering of conservative votes in a primary challenge.



He said the Club is also trying to replace Rep. Anthony Gonzalez, Ohio Republican, with challenger Max Miller, and is aiming to get rid of Rep. Adam Kinzinger, Illinois Republican, but is waiting to see how his district may be redrawn.  

The Club is committed to ensuring that Republican lawmakers do not follow in the footsteps of either Ms. Cheney or Rep. Elise Stefanik, the New York Republican who replaced Ms. Cheney in leadership.

Ms. Stefanik received a 37% score from the Club, and Mr. McIntosh said the elevation of the “bailout queen” sent the wrong message to voters.

“That sends a bad signal to voters that either Republicans are going to turn left more like the Democrats or they’re not being honest with the voters when they say they’ll cut spending and cut taxes if they have leadership that voted against the tax cuts and voted for all the spending bills,” said Mr. McIntosh.

He added, “I’m hopeful they’ll look at these scorecards and realize, ‘Hey, we better watch what we’re doing when it comes to the spending bills,’ and get off their habit of just spending and spending and spending.”

The Club wants to produce higher-quality Republican candidates between the two poles of Ms. Cheney and Ms. Stefanik and are looking for Republicans who will both work to earn support from former President Donald Trump’s voters while maintaining a commitment to a conservative policy agenda of lower taxes, less regulation and smaller government.

Mr. McIntosh said the future of the Republican Party is people like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and added that Rep. Andy Biggs, Arizona Republican, should be a part of GOP leadership.

Mr. McIntosh also singled out Sen. Mike Lee, Utah Republican, as doing yeoman’s work without concern for political considerations and pointed to Rep. Ted Budd, North Carolina Republican, as someone the Club wants to see in the U.S. Senate.

“Trump governed as a conservative and he grew the economy til COVID hit but that’s his legacy, right? And it’s still important in what people want to see the Republican Party do — Congress is kind of lagging that,” Mr. McIntosh said. “They’re sitting there in their offices putting their finger up to test the wind and see which way it’s going to blow and Stefanik did that and realized she had to be for Trump if she was going to survive but she doesn’t really lead for those issues.”

Ten Republican lawmakers and former Rep. Justin Amash, who left the Republican Party for the Libertarian Party, received perfect marks from the Club.

These 10 included six GOP representatives, namely Mr. Biggs and Reps. Tom Tiffany of Minnesota, Jody Hice of Georgia, Thomas Massie of Kentucky, Brian Babin of Texas, and former Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin.

The four senators receiving perfect scores were Mr. Lee and Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky, Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin.

A total of 28 lawmakers earned the label ‘defenders of economic freedom,’ which means they have graded at a 90% or higher score last year and over the course of their time in office.

The gulf between Democrats and Republicans is sharp, with the average House Democrat scoring 3% and the highest-rated Democratic lawmaker being Rep. Ben McAdams of Utah with a 28% score. Senate Democrats’ average score was 1%.

House Republican leadership scored an average 62.7% while the Senate graded considerably higher. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell notched an 73% score while the average Senate Republican graded 74%. 

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